Phuket Airport (HKT) Guide
Guide to Phuket Airport And Your 1st Days On Phuket
Airport, Immigration And your 1st days on Phuket
Below we offer you a brief guide to what to bring with you while travelling to Phuket. From your departure airport and exiting Phuket International Airport to a few suggestion for your first days on Phuket.
Departure airport before you fly to phuket
Baggage And Immigration
Put all items in your main bag, such as toiletries, lighters, coins and any liquids. Only keep the essentials on you, or in your hand luggage, while going through immigration and boarding the flight. This just saves time and stress.
All you really need is your passport, a pen, your passport and the flight ticket and that's it. Also carry enough currency to pay for your airport drinks/food etc before you depart and then enough in notes to change at Phuket Airport
A Pen for Passport Control
During your flight and shortly before your plane arrives in Thailand you will be given an Phuket immigration entry card to fill in. More than half the passengers will immediately be wanting to borrow a pen so they will be in short supply. Save yourself a little stress and keep one handy.
You will also need your passport number and your flight number so write it down to save rummaging through the overhead locker to get your documents.
Do NOT wait until you arrive at immigration to fill this card in or you will be sent to the back of the line which could mean another long wait!
There will be many other times that you need a pen so its a good idea to keep one on your person especially when travelling.
What You Need When You Arrive At Phuket International Airport
Changing Money At Phuket Airport
When you arrive to Phuket Airport, gone through immigration and about to walk the taxi gauntlet there are money chargers before you walk out on your left. Check the currency exchange before you travel so you know if you are getting a good deal or not and change some there if you are happy.
There are a lot of banks and money changers in all Resort area's so just change enough to last you a few days and then start searching around for the best rates. Saying this, they do offer good rates so change as much as you feel comfortable with.
Phuket Airport Transport And Taxi's
Unless you are staying at one of the few hotels near the airport its likely that you'll have at least an hour's travel to your accommodation. Its quite an expensive taxi ride so it may be just as cheap and certainly more convenient to use your hotel's pick-up service if they have one.
If you do elect to make your own way you will usually get the best price from the metered taxis that park to the right as you exit the airport building but beware, as some will offer you a higher fixed fee rather than use the meter.
Saying this I always opt for booking a taxi just as you are walking out after immigration. There's a little booking booth to your left and it costs 700THB for a taxi to most places. This booth also changes money and the last time I did this in March 2015 it was a better rate than all the money changers and banks so I suggest that you check the currency exchange rates online before you travel and then ask them what the exchange rate is for X amount when you arrive.
There is also an inexpensive airport bus service that runs to Phuket Town with stops on the way that may suit some staying at hotels en route. Its also an option for those travelling on a tight budget as there is a very cheap bus service that runs between Patong and Phuket Town during the day.
What You May Need The Day After You Arrive On Phuket
If you have not taken my advise above then just ask you Hotel, or where ever you are staying, for the nearest money changers. There rates are not much different from the banks but shop around 1st.
Passport in Thailand
Thai law requires foreigners to carry their passport at all times though, the reality is that most people keep it locked in their hotel's security box or safe, which I suggest. If you decide to do the same then carrying a photocopy of it will probably satisfy most public officials at least as an interim measure.
A passport copy would also be extremely useful if you lost the original and had to visit your embassy to obtain a new one. Other photo ID such as a photo driver's license or bank card may get you by in some situations. We suggest that you photocopy two copies and putting one away safe.
Thailand electrical plug
Electricity in Thailand is 220 volts at 50hz which is compatible with devices sold in many countries. If you are coming from a country that is not compatible then you will need a voltage converter. These can usually be found amongst the travel accessories sold at airports though you will probably get them a lot cheaper by purchasing one locally before you travel.
Even if you do not need a voltage converter you will probably require plug adapters. Most electrical outlets in any airport departure lounge will sell these items. Thailand's plugs will fit a plug with either two horizontally opposed flat pins or two round pins in the same configuration. Cheap adapters can found in many Phuket 7-11 or Family Mart stores but it would pay to have at least one with you before you travel so that you can be sure you are able to do things like charge your phone as soon as you check in to your hotel.
This item is easily bought all over Phuket but its a good idea to apply some as soon as you get off the plane at Bangkok as the mosquitoes may well decide not to wait for you to go and buy some.
Malaria is not normally a problem on the island but there are a few cases of Dengue fever each year though usually they are confined to non-tourists who have to work or live in the danger areas. Most of the time, however, mosquito bites in Phuket are just a nasty irritation and will itch for two or three days before clearing up.
Keep your repellent handy and take care especially around sundown. If you are sitting near standing water at any time of day its always a good time to apply protection.
Finally, do not sleep with open windows unless they are screened. A single mosquito can cause a series of unsightly bites if allowed uninterrupted feeding while you sleep. If you see one in your room do not go to bed until it is taken care of. Many hotels will send someone to spray guest rooms upon request but failing that, insect spray can be purchased at most 7-11s and Family Marts.
Clothing For Phuket And Thailand
Phuket is hot all year round whether its raining or not so loose, breathable garments are the most suitable whatever the season. These days there are many modern synthetic fabrics that fit the bill nicely but, if in doubt, cotton is a good choice though it can cling to the skin if you perspire in which case white may not be the ideal colour as it tends to become transparent ! However, as Phuket is a shopper's paradise, particularly for summer clothing, it might be best not to take too much with you or you won't have room in your luggage to take much back with you.
For strolling around town, sandals are ideal and can be purchased very cheaply almost everywhere. Although extremely popular, backless sandals or "flip-flops" are not a good choice due to the unevenness of some footpaths. Also, a flash cloudburst can quickly make this type of footwear slippery and a hazard in themselves.
Travel medicine for Phuket
Its Best to be Prepared Before You Go
Pharmacies are one of the most common types of shops to be found in Phuket and stock most of the things you'd find in any western country but visitors should be aware that some drugs that are prescription-only in many countries are sold freely in Thailand. For this reason some people might feel more comfortable purchasing travel medicines before leaving home.
High on your list might be Imodium and antacid tablets as Thai food is generally very spicy and the change in diet can cause stomach upsets for a few people. If you plan on taking advantage of the many sea tours then motion sickness tablets might also be worth considering.
Saying the above. The Pharmacies here on Phuket have seen it all before and you can buy over the counter tablets or any other type of medicine so don't worry too much about this unless your personal doctor advises differant.
Thai dictionaries for smart phones
There are quite a few Thai language dictionaries available for smart phones.
Phuket is a tourist hotspot so most of the local Thai people know enough English for you to get by without you needing to speak a word of Thai. Still, there will be times when you wish to do more than ask for directions or barter for goods and a Thai phrasebook can be a great help in these situations. Amazon is a good place to pick up a cheap one.
Its not essential to take one with you as they can be purchased quite cheaply in Phuket but buying before you go will give you some time to learn the basics before you get there. Note: if buying in Phuket, take care that it is English to Thai and not Thai to English as they look similar at a glance.
If you have a modern smart phone then there are plenty of applications and e-books that make the traditional phrase book obsolete.
Other Useful Phuket Travel Information
There is only 1 time zone in Thailand: +7 hrs GMT, or +12 hrs EST.
Banking hours are 08:30 until 15:30, Monday to Friday. Many shop stores are open 12 hours a day, every day.
Phuket Postal Services
Post offices are open from 09:00 until 15:30 hrs. Thai postal services are be unreliable. Important items can be sent by express mail service (EMS) from the mainland. This is faster and safer but the cost is higher. Private air couriers like DHL and UPS also have representatives on Phuket.
International calls can be made from most major hotels and some travel agents. For International Direct Dialling dial 001 + country code + area code + phone number.
There are many internet cafes in the tourist locations and connection speeds are fairly good. Most of the established and smart minded owners of Restaurants, cafes and bars all offer free wifi also.
Codes of Behavior
Thais are flexible in nature and understand very well, that foreigners do not know their code of behavior. Mostly they are too polite to complain about ignorance.
But if you'd like to be respected, it is important to show proper behavior, most importantly to show respect for the monarchy. Thai people are very fond of and loyal to their king and queen and the whole royal family.
Their religion should be respected as well. Temples, Buddha, statues, and monks (it is not allowed for a woman to touch a monk, for example) are to be revered.
Buddhist and Chinese shrines are open to foreigners but you should dress appropriately when visiting. Shorts and sleeveless shirts are discouraged. A non-Muslim can enter a mosque during prayer time. Hilltop houses have special spirit houses, which are closed to outsiders; entering them will violate their sanctity.
Thais are amenable to being photographed but, if in doubt, ask first. Monks can be photographed and Buddhist ceremonies too. They regard the feet of lower stature so do not point them at others or step over those seated or lying. Remove your shoes before entering a Thai temple or house. Likewise, the head is of high stature and is not supposed to be touched or slapped.
Tipping and bargaining
Although tipping is not expected or required, it is a nice gesture to leave a small amount, when you receive good service, particularly as salaries are low.
If you decide to bargain, understand that you should, above all, do it in a light-hearted non-confrontational manner, preferably with a big smile. When bargaining, Thais will normally drop their original asking price to a lower price very quickly but will then become irritable after more than a few minutes of further haggling! If you really feel that you are not getting value-for-money, then better to show that you are willing to walk away and maybe return later!
As in other countries, knowing the rudiments of negotiation ("How much?", "Too expensive", "Can you come down?" and numbers) in the Thai language will certainly afford you a better price.
See our Phuket Shopping Guide for full details
Thailand is one of the friendliest and safest travel destinations in the world. Your personal safety is well taken care of in the main tourist destinations and the tourist police demonstrate a polite and competent attitude all round. By travelling with confidence, being aware and showing the proper caution, you will surely enjoy your stay.
Travelers should be aware, as in the rest of the world, pickpockets and con artists are more likely to be found in crowded areas such as tourist spots, buses, trains and train stations, festivals, and marine harbors — so keep a watchful eye on your valuables in these places.
Petty pilfering from hotel rooms is not unknown, though it is fairly unusual and staff are likely to be unexpectedly honest.
Be warned! Prisons on Phuket and in Thailand are full of expats and foreigners who thought they were clever and could beat the system. Not so clever now uh.
If you do drugs, get involved in any scams or listen to the talkers who say that you don't need a work permit to work, then don't cry when you get nabbed. Remember. Even the drug sellers have been already caught, turned are now informers so don't let that be you!
Phuket offers a wide range of shops and shopping centers to cater for all needs. From the small local mini markets, 7/elevens and family marts where you can buy the every day items to the larger super markets such as Makro, Tesco Lotus, Central Festival and Big C where you you will find everything from electronics, fashion and both local and International food items. More details